That’s right–turns out some researcher in 1994 (Miguel Alcubierre) figured out something about faster than light travel. Basically, he figured out a way to warp space behind and in front of a spaceship. The idea is that the space behind the ship would be forced to rapidly expand, propelling the ship forward really damn fast. In short, we could get to Alpha Centauri (the closest star system to us) in two weeks!
The problem with Alcubierre’s original idea is that the amount of power needed to create a stable “warp bubble” was roughly equivalent to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is freaking huge, and it’s a gas giant. That means that it’s practically brimming over in energy abundance. Hard to cram Jupiter into a spaceship. Where would the monkeys sit?
That’s where Harold White comes in–he thinks he’s found a way to drastically reduce the amount of energy needed to create this warp bubble by altering the architecture of the structures that create the field. The result: the power supply needed would be smaller and lighter than the one in the original Voyager 1 spacecraft. In short; doable. NASA is working on it right now!
Read more about it on io9 (which is where I initially learned about it). Now I’m going to go geek out about this some more.